The Refrigerator Killed Culture…REALLY!

fresh culture

by Kenneth Justice

~ Yesterday on BBC I was listening to a story about the lack of refrigerators in various countries around the world and the impact that it has upon world health. I hadn’t realized that refrigerators and health safety are believed to be connected. After all, humanity seemed to get along just fine for thousands upon thousands of years without refrigerators, so why are these electronic cooling machines now believed to be so direly connected to the future of humanity?

To be honest, I myself could get along without a refrigerator just fine. Perhaps I am an oddball, but I go grocery shopping every single day. You see, a few years ago I made the decision to cut back on my grocery costs and to place a higher emphasis on fresh and healthy eating; this meant no more frozen or canned foods since my goal was to eat fresh fruit and vegetables each day.

Surprisingly enough, stopping at the grocery store for a few minutes on my way home from work every day became one of the most enjoyable parts of my day, and I couldn’t believe how much money I began saving. When I used to go grocery shopping once a week I would estimate what foods I would need and by the end of the week, I was almost sure to have found that certain foods had spoiled (especially particular fruits and vegetables) in my refrigerator, or if they hadn’t spoiled; after sitting in the back of my fridge for the week they no longer looked as appetizing as when I had first picked it up off the shelf.

Buying fresh fruits and vegetables is incredibly inexpensive. For instance, for yesterday’s dinner I had fresh cabbage and baked potatoes; it was enough to feed about six people, and the whole meal cost $4; the head of cabbage was 50 cents, and the potatoes were $2.50, and I also picked up some croissants that you warm in the oven for $1. I threw in some fresh garlic, butter, salt, and pepper that I already had at home, but the cost of those four ingredients were in the pennies as well.

However, putting aside the low cost of making fresh meals, the most exciting thing I learned about my new lifestyle of stopping at the grocery store every day was the people I began meeting. After all, every day around four o’clock I was always at the grocery store and I started getting to know the people who work there, as well as some of the other customers (the neighbors from my community).

It’s been nearly five years of my new way of life when it comes to grocery shopping and I can’t see myself going back to the old way anytime soon, and I often wonder what life would be like if all of my neighbors stopped by the grocery store every day; how different would our culture be if we began connecting with each other in the way humans have done throughout our history?

Going to the market has been a major element of human culture for thousands of years, but sadly, the refrigerator has entirely changed the experience, and I dare I say it has nearly, all but killed the experience of going to the market?


Categories: Culture & Society

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12 replies

  1. Daily shopping is exactly what I do as well.. until reading your take on daily shopping I felt I was a loser for not having a massive list for a weekly shop, which every respectable housewife nowadays seems to be doing.
    I shop every day for my dinner. I like my meat fresh and my veggies and fruit fresh as well.

    I know people will say “but if you go to the shop every day you spend so much more because once you’re in the shop you see everything you want, so you get it”. That’s where common sense and self control come to play. I don’t need to purchase all sorts of rubbish I don’t need. Yes, I do see the chocolates and crisps and beers, but I just merrily walk past and once at the till, there’s no going back- it’s out the door with a winning grin! 🙂

    Anyway, I feel way better now for my daily shopping habit. And it’s true- I know every person working in the local shop with whom I always have lovely conversations. Human connection is very important in this overly technical world.

    • Lil, I’m so glad you commented! At times i’ve thought i’m the only one who does this. part of what stirred me to this way of getting produce is Chef Ramsay; I started watching a couple of his shows, and he convinced me that fresh food is goal when it comes to the art of cooking. Awesome comment, thank you!

    • Glad to have you back in full blogging mode… You really stir some interesting thoughts and ideas in my head, which is always refreshingly challenging 🙂

      And see, I can’t go wrong following Culture Monk when I agree with him so much! 🙂

  2. Well despite the fridge and understanding fully what you are saying. It is more astonishing that a BBC show can say what is best for a country. In these countries the community still cooks together, think an African Village or even an South American hidden culture.

    It is funny how we are being brought to a more organic and fresh eating pattern when we keep producing in masses. And there is the psychological of a fridge as well. When the date nears you HAVE to eat it and that can result in eating to much. Anyone obese.
    Second and this may sound I am defending the fridge. The health groups say that our old ways of keeping food, think barrels of salt for fish are bad for us. in a fridge we can do with less conserving ingredients, though the industry is a bit behind and are still using them. Grandma had a great way of using those pots. Filled with jam or sauces.

    Still it is okay to have a fridge and freezer. I drink about 3 gallons 10 litter of milk a week. And it is nice to have room for the pot of soup I make on Saturday. And whether one needs grocery shopping or not it is always worth going out and leave the phone at home.

  3. I don’t mind to buy daily. A good social life and exercise.

  4. I think it might have more to do with how a person prefers to spend their time. I go grocery shopping once a week. I have a list. It takes about an hour, going to/from the store and shopping for what I need. If I went every day, it would still take just about the same hour. So, do I want to spend 1 hour/week at the store or 7? Personally, I prefer to do other things than shop. I think most people in the US don’t have the time to spend, they have too many other things going on.

  5. Strangely enough, I discovered how cheap it is to eat fresh when I was on food stamps. We didn’t have money to go out to eat and I wasn’t working (hence the food stamps) so I had tons of time to cook and shop. I did that EVERY DAY! It was the healthiest and most economic we have ever been.

    On the culture part of things: Don’t we just have to roll with the punch as to the hits on social culture and just be more intentional every day? I mean, it is possible to look for way to be more social and just put yourself out there.

  6. At first, I was thinking I didn’t have anything to say to this, but no…I do lol. You make awesome points Kenneth, but you forget that there are rural communities. Not everyone can go to the grocery store all the time like you do. Hell, right now Needles doesn’t even have a full service grocery store and because of it’s size and economic situation, it’s not likely to ever have one again. Yes, there is a 99 Cents Only Store that does help provide many things and a few fresh veggies and fruits, it’s not consistent and it’s limited. Most of the folks around here have to drive 15-20 plus miles (one way) to get to a full grocery store – so there’s gas money to think about (which right now isn’t as big of deal given how the prices have dropped so much) but also miles on a vehicle and time…it takes time to get out there and back. Speaking of time – I’m not sure how you manage to cook every day, but I don’t think there’s a way for me to do that – I work early mornings and nights…sometimes in the same day. I’ve already decided the only way for me to cook is on my weekends and I try and pick out two different or new recipes for the week, or even two weeks if needed, and just try and eat leftovers. Also, as a single person, I have to work, shop, cook and clean by myself…I can’t divy up the responsibilities so again, time is an issue. Given my situation, and I’m thinking many others’, it would be nice to do that but it’s simply not always possible. So, if you don’t mind, I’ll keep my refridgerator and freezer. Just as I was thinking it was possible for me to get to eating right and do better about taking care of myself you post this lol. Great…now it feels hopeless lol. *sigh*. Oh well. 🙂

  7. I have a friend who is now divorced and about 55, she goes to the store every day after work, she did it at first so she didn’t have to go home to an empty house, but she loves it! She wouldn’t go back, either. Now that my son is older and I am not having to cook him a meal every night I have found myself running to the store more often for fresh ingredients, too! But, I don’t talk to people! Lol

  8. How many of our conveniences have killed socializing opportunities? I’m not even talking about technological conveniences, but even efficiency measures that ensure we get in and get out of wherever we’re at. Has this reinforced the notion of everything as an end; we’re so used to “getting it done” that we wake up and realized there’s no place left to “abide”?

    As for the health aspects of refrigeration, I take all claims of health with a grain of salt. Do health benefits include not suffering from unpleasant (but non-life threatening) cases of food poisoning? Gastro-intestinal Distress? I suspect that a bit of scrutiny will reveal that “health” may not mean what I take it to mean 🙂

  9. When my wife and I went to Korea that is how it was there we purchased our food fresh each day. This is how my wife grew up (she grew up in Korea). We have also gone fresh in like manner. Though we do not go every day we shop for food between 4 to 5 times per week


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